by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
It never ends—the continuing additions to the ear-level hearing aid “alphabet soup” I mean. There are so many acronyms for hearing aids, its hard to know what they all mean.
First came the Behind-the-Ear (BTE) hearing aids. Currently there are a couple of variations of BTE aids such as the Over-the-Ear (OTE) hearing aid and the Receiver-in-the-Canal (RIC) aid. (Sometimes the later are referred to as RITE aids—Receiver-in-the-Ear aids).
Current BTE and OTE aids are tiny in comparison to the huge BTE aids that first came out around 1956 such as the Zenith Diplomat.
After the BTE aids had been out a few years, manufacturers miniaturized the electronics and packed them into a hearing aid that fit into the ear. These were appropriately called In-the-Ear (ITE) hearing aids. There were a number of variations of these such as the very-noticeable full shell and the half shell ITE aids.
Then came the In-the-Canal (ITC) aids. These were followed by the ever-smaller Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC) aids.
Now they have just added to the confusion even smaller deeply-fitted CIC aids such as the Invisible-in-the-Canal (IIC) and the Micro-in-the-Canal (MIC) aids such as the Phonak Nano (and its variations).
Then there are special Bone Conduction (BC) hearing aids such as Cochlear’s Bone-Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA), and SoundBite’s In-the-Mouth (ITM) hearing aid.
And if that weren’t enough, don’t forget the Contralateral Routing of Sound (CROS and Bi-CROS) aids also for single-sided deafness.
By now, if you are fed up with choking down this big bowl of alphabet soup, just remember, in spite of all these different kinds of aids and no matter what names and acronyms they go by, the best hearing aid for you is the one that lets you hear the best. Secondary considerations include how the hearing aid connects with other assistive devices. For example, make sure you get a hearing aid with a t-coil in it. Don’t let style and size dictate how well you hear. Those should be tertiary considerations at best.